Incorporating ESDM Strategies into Daily Life: Tips for Parents of Young Autistic Children and Potential Therapists


On April 8, 2024

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) continues to make a significant impact on the lives of young autistic children under the age of 5, by addressing key developmental areas such as communication, social skills, and adaptive behaviours. For parents and potential therapists embarking on the ESDM journey, it is important to leverage this evidence-based approach in daily life, ensuring that the therapeutic benefits extend beyond structured sessions. At Amazing Kids, our mission is to equip parents and therapists with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to integrate ESDM strategies into everyday routines and activities, fostering an environment that encourages the flourishing of a child’s development.

In this blog, we will delve into practical tips and strategies for incorporating ESDM techniques into various aspects of daily life – from morning and bedtime routines, to playtime, mealtime, and outings. As we explore these approaches for promoting essential skills, we will provide examples of activities that target communication, social engagement, and other developmental areas, empowering parents and potential therapists alike to make the most of ESDM principles.

This content is tailored to parents of young autistic children under 5 and potential therapists seeking a valuable resource with intent-driven, unique insights about seamlessly incorporating the ESDM into daily life. In addressing the practical aspects of integrating ESDM strategies, this blog will create an engaging and informative guide that will ultimately lead to stronger support and progress for the young autistic children involved. With Amazing Kids by your side, you can trust in the expertise and knowledge we bring to the table, ensuring your child’s development and well-being are at the forefront of everything we do.

Morning and Bedtime Routines: Building Consistency and Predictability

Establishing consistent morning and bedtime routines can create a sense of predictability and reinforce a child’s sense of security. Some ESDM-inspired strategies to incorporate include:

  • Visual Schedules: Use visual aids to help your child understand the sequence of daily events, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story.
  • Turn-Taking: Encourage turn-taking during activities like teeth brushing, fostering interaction and cooperation.
  • Reward Systems: Implement a reward system for routine completion to promote motivation and a sense of achievement.

Playtime Activities: Building Communication and Social Skills

Playtime is an ideal opportunity to integrate ESDM strategies that promote communication and social skills. Suggestions include:

  • Joint Attention Activities: Engage in shared interests and play activities, such as building blocks or puzzles, to encourage joint focus and interaction.
  • Imitation Games: Play simple imitation games, like clapping or tapping, to foster engagement, communication, and social development.
  • Use of Language: Supplement play activities with rich, meaningful language, and provide clear prompts to encourage your child to use speech while playing.

Mealtime Strategies: Nurturing Independence and Adaptive Behaviours

Mealtimes offer a prime opportunity for introducing ESDM techniques that develop independence and adaptive behaviours:

  • Encourage Self-Feeding: Provide utensils, cups, and bowls suited to your child’s fine motor skills, promoting self-feeding and autonomy.
  • Establish Routines: Utilise a consistent mealtime routine and seating arrangement to create predictability and support your child’s growing independence.
  • Turn-Taking: Emphasise turn-taking, sharing, and communication as you pass and serve food, fostering social skills during mealtime.

Outings and Community Activities: Encouraging Generalisation and Inclusivity

Venturing out into the community can provide valuable experiences for embedding ESDM strategies that support generalisation and inclusivity:

  • Preparation and Planning: Discuss the outing with your child before the event using visual aids and written schedules to help overcome potential challenges.
  • Reinforce Desirable Behaviours: Praise and reinforce any positive behaviours your child exhibits during outings, such as following rules and interacting with others.
  • Adapt Activities: Modify community activities and experiences to suit your child’s unique needs, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion.


By integrating ESDM strategies into daily life, parents and potential therapists can reinforce therapy goals and support the continuous development of communication, social skills, and adaptive behaviours for young autistic children. Through consistent routines, engaging playtime activities, empowering mealtimes, and inclusive outings, ESDM principles can be woven seamlessly into everyday life. By embracing these techniques, you can provide a supportive and nurturing environment that caters to your child’s individual needs, paving the way for further growth and success.

Looking for evidence-based ESDM services in Melbourne that can help support your child’s development and well-being? Look no further than Amazing Kids! Our comprehensive ESDM services are designed to empower families and provide young autistic children with the tools and resources they need to thrive. Whether you’re a parent or a potential therapist, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Contact Amazing Kids today and start your journey toward a brighter future for your child!

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